South African triathlete's legs severely injured in saw attack

South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala 27 was out cycling when three men attacked him and attempted to saw off his legs

Gwala was reportedly training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday morning at around 3.15am when he was approached by three men and dragged into the bushes.

The attackers also started sawing into Gwala's left leg before fleeing, enabling the athlete to crawl to a road and flag down a passing auto to take him to a hospital. Sandile Shange, a training partner of Gwala's, told the BBC that Gwala is in hospital and his injuries are not life threatening.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala told the BBC the attackers could be charged with attempted murder.

Jackson said Gwala told him that the attackers sawed into his right calf (with a tiresome blade), damaging muscle, nerves and bone.

Triathlete Henri Schoeman broke the news of the attack on his verified Twitter account and pledged his support for Gwala. They had a chainsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part. They missed a main artery, and surgeons are confident they can save the leg, Jackson said. They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck.

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"I have never heard of any enemies that he may have", Jackson said, according to The Guardian.

"We don't yet know how far they went in‚ whether they were trying to cut it off‚ or what the circumstances are".

Gwala's ordeal is eerily similar to the 1994 beating of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, whose leg was nearly broken by Tonya Harding's husband - an attack that left other athletes reeling.

"All we know is that Mhlengi is alive and he is talking and he is under medical care. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?".

The young athlete from Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, has a promising sporting career and has already competed in two global triathlons.

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